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High Vegetable Costs Drain Households in Northern Nigeria

High costs of vegetables have continued to drain resources of households in northern Nigeria as they struggle to survive high inflation seen in decades.

 Known as the agricultural hub of Nigeria with arable land for cultivating varieties of crops and vegetables, many families find it difficult to sustain vegetables as ingredients of their meals.

WikkiTimes reports that vegetable markets across various states are experiencing supply shortages, driving prices even higher.

Bauchi

Residents of Bauchi, like many in the region, are grappling with steep increases in vegetable prices due to supply shortages and widespread inflation. These hikes have burdened households and local businesses, making everyday meals more costly for them.

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In recent weeks, the prices of common vegetables have surged dramatically. Dried tomatoes, previously N700 per standard measure, now cost N2000, as fresh ones are rarely available. Similarly, the price of onions has increased from N1000 per small basket to N5000. Peppers, essential in many local dishes, have more than tripled in price, climbing from N500 to N2000 per measure.

Local farmers report poor harvests due to ongoing economic challenges, including high fuel costs and inflation, which have increased transportation and production expenses. Additionally, the costs of inputs and prolonged dry spells have reduced the supply of fresh vegetables.

Musa Maikayan Miya, a vegetable seller at Maraban Liman Katagum Market, explained, “We are facing serious challenges. There are no products at the farms, so the supply is very poor. But the worst is the cost of transporting the vegetables from the farms to the market, which has doubled due to high fuel prices. Farmers are also charging more due to poor harvests. We have no choice but to increase our prices.”

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Fauziyya Amadu, another vendor, added, “Every day, customers complain about the high prices. We understand their frustration, but the situation is beyond our control. We are also struggling to make ends meet with these high costs.”

Several residents in Bauchi express concern over the price hikes. Ibro Suleiman, a civil servant, shared his frustration, “The cost of living is becoming unbearable. Our salaries have not increased, but the prices of essential items keep going up. Vegetables are a crucial part of our diet, and now they are becoming a luxury.”

Aisha Shitu, a mother of four, described the impact on her family’s daily life: “We used to buy fresh vegetables every day, but now we have to cut down. It’s affecting our nutrition and our budget. I hope the government can find a way to support farmers and stabilize prices.”

Gombe

In Gombe, the situation is similarly dire. Mrs. Aisha Ibrahim, a lecturer at the College of Education, expressed her shock at the prices. She was given only three pieces of stale red pepper for N200 and couldn’t afford to cook stew for her family anymore.

“Prices of vegetables are becoming alarming for many, including myself,” lamented

Another resident, Mr. Abubakar Muhammad, also decried the struggle to purchase tomatoes and pepper daily. “Life is difficult in this country already. The government should do something about this high cost of living because people cannot endure this terrible situation,” he said.

Segment of vegetables at Shuwarin Market, Jigawa

A visit to the Gombe market revealed the reason behind the price hike. Fatima Nuhu, a business owner at Riyal Market, said the hike in price is linked to the rising cost of fertilizer and other farm inputs that the farmers incurred. “Vegetable farmers are struggling to buy fertilizers, herbicides and other farm inputs. It is not easy for the vendors as well. There is little profit in the business right now.”

For Sadiq Tukur, a vegetable seller at Arawa market, logistics costs have also contributed to the ordeal. “Aside from fertilizer, we pay more for transportation. We are not happy that vegetables are expensive because they are perishable goods. If people can’t afford them, they rot away, and we run at a loss.”

Jigawa

In Jigawa State, the rise in food prices has dampened the festive spirit ahead of Eid. Both sellers and buyers are lamenting the increase in food costs, struggling to afford even their daily meals.

Usha’u Usman, a tomato seller at Shuwarin market in Dutse, complained about the high prices and how it is difficult for buyers as well.

“I buy my goods from Kano. Atarugu pepper sack used to cost N20,000 or, at the highest, N40,000 naira, but now it’s N110,000. We divide it into smaller sizes for people to buy, but we end up with little to no profit as people hardly come to buy them,” Usman said.

Another seller, Malam Hamza, criticizes this year’s price hike as being unusually expensive. While it’s typical for prices to rise during festive seasons, this year’s increase is significantly higher than usual.

Segment of vegetables at Shuwarin Market, Jigawa
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“Last year we sold at N5, 000, N10,000 and N15,000 but now you can only get pepper at N110,000 naira. Chilli pepper at N85,000 naira, Onions at N52,000 to N55,000 naira. It’s a phase that will pass, God willing.

A buyer, Hajiya Ramatu, laments with teary eyes how the prices keep increasing and how it has affected their livelihood.

“We now go out like men to look for what to eat due to the hardship, our children now go to school without food because we can’t afford it. Nothing is now affordable; we just have to look for means to cook what we can afford. The government should please come to our aid as this price hike is getting out of hand.” 

Most of the sellers interviewed by WikkiTimes complained about the price hike, noting that customers often inquire about prices but leave without buying. Many customers mentioned that they might not prepare anything for the Eid festivity, as it is beyond what they can afford.

During WikkiTimes’ visit to Shuwarin market, the section for perishable foods was noticeably scanty, with fewer sellers and customers present despite the upcoming Eid festival. Most sellers were selling primarily onions, with few offering other perishables like tomatoes and peppers.

“For tomatoes, the cost has made us not bring them. In the whole market, we have just two baskets of tomatoes, and they haven’t sold because people are not buying. Chilli pepper is now N85,000, whereas the highest in the past was N10,000. We were more than 100 sellers here in the past, but now we are fewer than 10 due to the harsh economy.”

A buyer, Mal Muhammadu Suraja, said, “Things have tripled beyond what an average person can afford. Items we bought for N1,000 before are now up to N10,000.”

“The problem is from the government and the intermediaries who add more profit to goods after buying them cheaply from farmers. The government should come to the rescue of the less privilege. Sallah is here in a few days, but a lot of people can’t afford what to eat today,” he stated.

Misau

In Misau, as Eid-el-Kabir approaches, the demand for vegetables and other soup ingredients has become higher in local markets.

Habiba Umar, a housewife, told WikkiTimes that due to exorbitant prices of tomatoes, onions, and peppers, she couldn’t prepare soup. “With N1000, you can’t make a good soup. Now it is hard to get fresh tomatoes; the one you can manage with is dried. For pepper, there is no problem except the price.”

“In the first place I doubted what my house boy brought to me, but later on when my husband bought it from the market, then I realized that the prices soared higher”, she said.

Lamara Yunusa, a father, said it has been long since he had soup in his house, saying rice and soup is only for privileged people nowadays. “I have stopped counting days since I had soup in my house. Tomato sauce is for legends now. With N1000, you can’t have a better soup. But due to the upcoming Sallah, I think I will have it for a day.”

WikkiTimes gathered that due to low harvests during this dry season, tomatoes are scarce in the markets, and the prices of dried ones have risen to N1,500 per measure. For onions, one small piece is N50, while the relatively big one is N100, and pepper is also costly.

WikkiTimes gathered that due to low harvest during this dry season, tomatoes are scarce in the markets while prices of dried ones is up to N1,500 per measure.

Dried Vegetables as Alternative

As the prices of fresh vegetables continue amid other competing demands, households are finding alternatives in dried vegetables.

WikkiTimes gathered that women are opting for dried tomatoes and other vegetables which are relatively cheaper in prices compared to the fresh ones.

Hajara Adam said dried tomatoes and pepper plus pumpkin are the alternative that can serve the same purpose with the fresh ones.

“In this situation sometimes, one has to be creative. Like in this Eid cooking and even normal routine meals, I rely on dried vegetables like tomatoes, pepper. Then I use fresh pumpkin and other available less costly ingredients in the house,” she said. 

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